With last week’s big victory over visiting Notre Dame, Saucon Valley (6-3) is back on the winning track. The Panthers snapped a two-game skid and now set their eyes on the District XI 4A playoffs. With a win on Friday night against the Palisades Pirates (2-7), the Panthers will not only secure a Colonial League East title, but they also have a chance to secure homefield advantage in the opening round of the District XI playoffs. Things won’t be easy on Friday night for the Panthers. This matchup is a rivalry game and Palisades is much better than their 2-7 record indicates. According to Saucon Valley’s Director of Athletics Bob Frey, the Panthers and Pirates have butt heads the last week of the regular season and played for the Bicentennial Trophy since 1975. Saucon Valley holds a 29-14-2 record over Palisades in this rivalry game. Rivalry games, however, often take many unexpected twists and turns. Hopefully, a Panther victory in this Colonial League finale will serve as momentum for Saucon Valley moving forward into the playoffs.
Things Worth Watching:
When the Panthers have the ball…..
The Palisades Pirates run a base 4-3 defense. The Pirates like to play with two deep safeties and usually have seven defenders in the box. Depending on the offensive formation, the Pirates will also play with three defenders dropping deep and a strong-safety creeping into the box. The Pirates do have speed and are not afraid to play man-to-man defense on the back end. In addition, Palisades likes to pressure their opponents with their blitz package. The Pirates are a little on the light side up front. In the trenches, they average about 210 pounds and that may be a factor considering the Panthers average about 250 pounds per player on their offensive line. The Pirate defense as a unit gives up an average of 26 points per game. Saucon Valley, on average, scores twenty-five per contest.
The Panthers seem to have gotten their running game back on track after a couple of inconsistent weeks. Braydyn Lugardo (#20) carried 40 times for 177 yards and three TD’s last week in the big victory over Notre Dame. Lugardo is a senior who measures a solid 5’7″, 190 and has 97 carries for 519 yards to go along with his 9 TD’s. He is built low to the ground and possesses a whole lot of quickness and power. Lugardo is tough to tackle.
Also carrying the pigskin for the Panthers will be sophomore Damian Garcia (#30) who measures 5’10”, 165. Even though Lugardo has been the hot hand and getting a lot of attention lately, Garcia is the one closing in on his first 1,000 yard season. Garcia has run 110 times for 948 yards so far. He has scored a total of six touchdowns and averages over 8-yards per carry. Three of Garcia’s TD’s are from 50 yards out or more including one from 86 yards away. He has the potential to be a game-changing and explosive runner.
Chris Mann, a junior, would be another running back to keep an eye on for Saucon Valley, but unfortunately he has been sidelined for the remainder of the season with an injury. Mann was having a great season and recorded 44 carries for 386 yards which was good for 8.8 yards per carry.
Saucon Valley’s offense is known for a powerful rushing attack, but it all begins with sophomore quarterback, Dante Mahaffey (#12). Mahaffey is talented and of the dual-threat variety. He has completed 25 of 56 passes for 460 yards and six TD’s. On the ground, he is credited for carrying 90 times for 326 yards and nine additional touchdowns. Last week against Notre Dame, Mahaffey rolled for 2 TD’s and 119 yards on only 14 carries. He broke free on scoring runs of 50 and 39 yards.
When the Panthers do pass, Mahaffey will target the reliable hands of freshman Alex Magnotta (#8) and sophomore Anthony Orlemann (#9). Magnotta, who stands 6’0″, 155, is a nice-sized target for Mahaffey. Magnotta leads the Panther receivers with 8 catches for 84 yards and a TD. Orlemann is a playmaker who has demonstrated a knack for making spectacular catches.
2019 Panther Play-Makers
- QB: #12 So. Dante Mahaffey
- RB: #20 . Sr. Braydyn Lugardo, #30 So. Damian Garcia
- FB: #34 Fr. Tyler Pfizenmayer
- WR: #8 Fr. Alex Magnotta, #9 So. Anthony Orlemann, #82 Sr. Kevin Schoch
- TE: #5 Sr. Aiden Renninger, #80 Sr. Bobby Yovish
The Hogs this week will be led by seniors Evan Deily (#65) and Nick Warnke (#77). They will be joined by three-year starter David Osman (#60), Eli Deily (#76) and Cody Swinney (#56). Deily and Osman are juniors, Swinney is a sophomore. When healthy, these Hogs and their rough and tumble brand of “bully-ball” is very difficult to stop. For the first time in three weeks the Hogs look to be at full strength.
The 2019 Hogs: Week 10
- Left Tackle: #77 . Sr. Nick Warnke 6’2″, 235
- Left Guard: #60 Jr. David Osman 6’0″, 245
- Center: #56 So. Cody Swinney 5’11”, 250
- Right Guard: #65 Sr. Evan Deily 6’1″ , 225
- Right Tackle: #76 Jr. Eli Deily 6’4″, 290
When the Pirates have the ball…..
The Palisades offense averages 19 points per game. The Saucon Valley defense tends to give up 23 points per outing. The Pirates will spread it out with a variety of shotgun formations, but even then, they prefer to run the football. When they do pass, it is usually of the RPO variety where the quarterback will make the decision to run or pass based on his pre-snap read.
Overall, it seems the Pirates have struggled putting points on the scoreboard this season. Palisades has never been shut-out this year, but three times they were held to single digits. A couple of times, however, the Palisades offense burst for points. Week 4 against Catasauqua the Pirates scored 42 points while Week 7 against Bangor they hit for 36. Those two teams, by the way, have a combined record of 2-16. However, the Panthers need to be on guard. Palisades does have a couple of speedsters who can quickly change the course of a game.
The Pirates Up-Front
- Tackle #58 So. Liam Reixinger 6’1″, 270
- Guard #54 Sr. Joe Worthington 5’10”, 225
- Center #55 Sr. Zachary Shoemaker 6’0″, 220
- Guard #78 Jr. Austin Winters 5’6″, 195
- Tackle #50 S0. Nathan Carr 6’0″, 205
The first speedster is junior running back, Mason Smeland (#3) who is listed on Maxpreps at 5’6″, 150. There are no public stats available for Smeland, but on tape he has demonstrated that he is a very capable runner. He is slippery with great quickness, vision and very good speed. In addition to Smeland, the Pirates have the speedy services of senior wide receiver Gus Yocum. Yocum is listed at 5’5″, 130 and can flat out run. He is tough to catch when he finds his way into space. If the Panthers can keep the wraps on this dynmaic duo from Palisades, then they will drastically increase their chances of victory. Beyond, Smeland and Yocum, Palisades seems to be in shortage of play-making threats.
2019 Panther Defense
- DE’s: #65 Sr. Evan Deily, #77 Sr. Nick Warnke
- DT’s: #60 Jr. David Osman, #76 Jr. Eli Deily
- ILB’s: #20 Sr. Braydyn Lugardo, #34 Fr. Tyler Pfizenmayer
- OLB’s: #82 Sr. Kevin Schoch, #30 So. Damian Garcia
- DB’s: #9 So. Anthony Orlemann, #12 So. Dante Mahaffey, #80 Jr. Jiziah Davis
This Friday night regular season finale for the Panthers will not be as easy as most people think. Palisades will be highly motivated to end their season on a good note. It is a rivalry game and Palisades is starving for a 2019 win on their home turf. The Pirates have nothing to lose and a win against the Panthers will, at this point, make their season.
BEWARE!: This is a big-time trap game for the Saucon Valley Panthers. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
- Friday Night Football Forecast:
- Chilly with temperatures falling through the 50’s during the game. Overnight low 45. Light breeze out of the SW.
Good luck Panthers, the Source is with you!